Self-Care Lessons from a Puppy

As all dog owners know (and I am learning quickly!) puppies are hard work. They take your time, attention, and patience. In particular, they require training and conditioning for everything. It was in training my puppy that I learned something myself: many of the essentials for my puppy were essentials for myself as well.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush around us that we forget to include time for personal care. Don’t forget to bring it back every now and then with these reminders.

Puppies are so cute … and so much work. Learning to care for one can help remind you how to care for yourself.

Cover the Basics, the Rest is Extra

Sleep. Eat. Activity. Repeat. We really don’t need much more than this. Yes, we need to work to make a living. Yes, we enjoy spending time with family, friends, and doing hobbies, but when it’s boiled down we begin to see all of the things we include in our life that is NOT entirely necessary. In particular, negative stress and other pressures which distract us from what makes us feel fulfilled in life.

If something feels like a drain in your life, find a way that you no longer need that or a new way to cope with it. If there is any negativity attached to what you are doing, try to figure out if it the money or other benefit you’re deriving from it is worth it. If it is, try working on ways that you can find the positive in what you’re doing. If it isn’t, start looking for something else you can do!

Prioritize self-care and your wellbeing over what you feel pressured to do, and don’t be afraid to do things differently if that’s what works best for you.

Stick to a Routine

Puppies do best on a set routine. Setting a daily schedule for naps, mealtime, playtime, and potty breaks help them to learn healthy habits and reinforces positive behaviors. Similarly, we do best when we have a set routine to follow as well!

From maintaining the same sleep schedule to setting aside a specific time slot for exercise, we are more successful when we follow a pattern. If you are currently struggling with completing tasks and feeling productive, try setting up a daily calendar of events you want to accomplish and when. This will help you keep your focus on completing the task at hand rather than worrying about what comes next.

Making sure that you’re sticking to a routine will help make you feel more in control and secure in your life.

Find a Place to Call Your Own

Just like dogs, we feel Secure and confident when we have somewhere we can be ourselves and recharge. Find an area in your life that you can call your own where you can have downtime and rest. This doesn’t have to be a place where you’re alone – it can be at a local coffee shop or on your favorite bike at the gym. It can also be a shared space with someone you trust and can wind down with.

Regardless of the form it takes, make sure the space is one that helps you to recover and regroup.

Don’t take it Personally

Puppies are adorable, but they can also be little monsters. They chew on everything in sight – sometimes including you. When they do things that are frustrating or hurt us it can trigger an emotional response within. We get angry and want to lash out in return. But studies have shown that aggression from dogs is often learned behaviour.

When they bite or growl a little too hard, it’s not because they are inherently mean. They have their reasons, but it’s never meant as a personal attack on you. I believe that this is the same for humans as well. It’s interesting to think how often we take slights from others as personal attacks against us, rather than as unintentional. We may become the collateral damage of their bad day, and instead of allowing it to pass we carry that frustration and can pass it along to the next person, and the next.

Choose to stop the spread of misplaced anger and hurt by practicing understanding and love for those you interact with. You don’t know what may be going on in their lives and anything they are struggling with. Don’t take it personally, and give them patience and the benefit of the doubt.

Pass on the positive you want to receive. You may just provide what they need to get through their rough spot.

Communication is based on Respect and Trust

If you want to connect with another, keep in mind that you need two key elements to build a strong bond. Respect and trust are important in any form of communication and connection. If you want respect you need to give respect. If you want to be trusted, your need to show that you are trustworthy.

Relationships take time to build and you get out what you put in. Whether it’s a personal or professional relationship, the foundation remains the same. Maintain integrity and honesty in your approach and you will find yourself forming strong, quality connections with others.

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